Only a scaled-down version of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's playbook was revealed Thursday night, but the Ravens' overhauled offense got positive reviews.
Based on the limited sample of 10 plays during the Ravens' opening drive against the San Francisco 49ers, quarterback Joe Flacco is upbeat about the potential of the offense.
Flacco orchestrated an 80-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes and was capped by running back Bernard Pierce's pounding 2-yard touchdown run behind blocks from right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Rick Wagner.
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"We ran the ball really well and protected really well," Flacco said Saturday before a joint practice with the 49ers at the Ravens' training complex. "There is a lot to build on. I think we built a good foundation there. I think each week from here on out, we have to keep showing that improvement and building off what we did.”
During that drive, Flacco completed 4 of 5 passes for 52 yards. He had a long completion of 17 yards to versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk and connected with tight end Dennis Pitta on a 14-yard screen. Flacco also had a 12-yard throw to wide receiver Jacoby Jones and a 9-yard pass to new wide receiver Steve Smith.
Last year, the Ravens couldn't run the football consistently, ranking 30th in rushing offense. They couldn't protect Flacco on a regular basis as he was sacked a career-high 48 times. And Flacco threw a career-high and franchise-record 22 interceptions.
Since last season, the Ravens hired Kubiak to install his zone-blocking system and run-oriented version of the West Coast offense. And they retained left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and Pitta with $37.5 million and $32 million contracts, respectively, traded for center Jeremy Zuttah and signed Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, to a three-year, $11 million deal.
"I think we have a pretty resilient group and we react well to a lot of things," Flacco said. "Last year, a lot of ups and downs. We had to go back home this offseason and watch a lot of [playoff] games that we’re used to playing in. I think it’s all behind us.
"I think we’re looking to the future, and I think we have a very good outlook on it. We’re approaching [the season] like we do every year, trying to get better right now, play the best we can and come out running.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't quite ready to proclaim that the offense has been transformed into a finely tuned unit just yet. He's encouraged generally, though.
"I’m enthused about everything I’ve seen," Harbaugh said. "What word do you put on it? We don’t know yet. When we start playing real games, that’s when we’ll know what we are. I like the way our coaches are coaching.
"What’s important now is getting better today. That’s really all we’re looking at. How we’re going to be in the season? We’ll find out. But how prepared are we going to be? That’s a today thing. We have to take care of that right now.”